CASTRIES Saint Lucia: The Canaries community is to benefit from an organic farm, public education and job creation programme.
Supported by the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) in partnership with the Ministries of Agriculture and Social Transformation along with the Saint Lucia National Trust, the aim is to provide a sustainable, environmentally friendly organic farm producing harvestable fruit and vegetables.
In the process, the project will build the community’s capacity to secure their own food, nutrition and income at grassroots level thus helping to alleviate poverty.
This ecologically sound project will reduce overexploitation and misuse of biological resources in the west of the Island by utilising an aquaponic system helping reduce Saint Lucia’s over reliance on harmful agro-chemicals.
Aquaphonics is a form of soilless agriculture cultivating plants in sea water that can produce significantly high yields with minimum inputs, leading to localised sustainable and profitable food production.
Initially, the project will seek to sustainably improve livelihoods of 22 unemployed youth in Canaries through sustainable agriculture and physical activity.
The project will also have an important public education and outreach programme, with the trained youth becoming environmental ambassadors in their communities.
Local NGO, Sacred Sports Foundation (SSF) is the implementation agency. “As part of the project, the youths will undertake the SSF Way youth leadership programme, in partnership with the NSDC/CARE and other agricultural specialists, to increase employment opportunities “ says Delroy Alexander – SSF Chairman.
“Farming methods that engender Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care will be taught along with natural resource conservation, food selfsufficiency and social development in a small farmer context”.
The previously unemployed youth are expected to become community change agents for the physical activity, sound nutrition, the environment and promoters of environmentally responsible community development.
As part of the training programme the youth will play an integral part in the development, and construction of the farm, assisting with all components and undertaking important tasks such as information surveys, data collection, crop planting, community outreach activities and the establishment of an eco-information center.
This engagement and active participation in delivering actual solutions as part of the training programme is key to maintaining youth interest and input.